Water plant work should start soon

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 25, 1999

FERRIDAY, La. – Patience is wearing thin among the workers and 80 residents at Heritage Manor Nursing Home.

&uot;It’s kind of getting to everybody because this situation has just gotten so old,&uot; Administrator Tommy&160;Massey said. &uot;The town keeps saying it will last just another week.&uot;

What Massey was referring to is Ferriday’s boil water notice, now in its 36th day. The facility uses up to 300 gallons of water a day, water employees must buy or haul from a nearby National Guard tank or Massey’s house in Vidalia.

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But those working to fix the town’s troubled water plant are hoping – though not promising – that the end is in sight.

Repairs crews need to make to the plant to get the consistently clear water needed to help lift the boil notice should be start Monday or Tuesday, Town Attorney John Sturgeon said.

That work, which will include replacing beads used in the plant’s water filters and fixing clogged chemical pumps, should take seven days to complete.

&uot;We’re still getting a peak in turbidity now and then, and I suspect that will continue until we get the pumps straight,&uot;&160;Sturgeon said Friday.

The turbidity, or clarity, level of the water the plant produces is measured each morning and evening.

For the boil notice to be lifted, turbidity must remain under 0.5 for three days straight and the State Office of Public Health must make sure the plant is working correctly and chlorinating its water properly.

The next priorities for the grant money will include installing a fence around the plant and making improvements to the system that disposes of residue water left after the plant backwashes, or uses reserve water to clean, its filters.

That work can be done now that town officials got approval Thursday to spend $275,000 in state grants for such improvements.

Also, on Friday Sturgeon forwarded to Civil Defense Director Morris White the town’s application to the Interim Emergency Board for a grant of more than $112,000. White will forward the application to the state.

Unlike the previous state grants, the emergency money could be used not only to make new repairs, but to pay for the ones the town has already made. Earlier this week, U.S. Filter representatives installed a new computer to operate the plant more reliably in the future.

For one thing, that means that the switch regulating the backwashing of the plant’s filters no longer has to be tied back with a rope to keep it from malfunctioning.

But meanwhile, Heritage Manor still uses the water it brings in – pumped in through a plant sprinkler system normally used in nurseries – to give residents showers. It continues to buy ice, heat its own water behind the building and take linens to Vidalia Laundry to wash them.

And far as getting the boil notice lifted – well, Massey will believe it when he sees it.

&uot;Next week, they’ll probably tell us it will be another week before we can use the town’s water again,&uot;&160;he said.